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Tulsi's $50 million lawsuit against Hillary is a cynical ploy to bilk supporters

By Curt Anderson
January 22, 2020 11:54 pm
Category: Law
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Tulsi Gabbard sent me an email today announcing that she is suing Hillary Clinton for $50 million for defamation. Tulsi says she needs my financial help with her lawsuit. Tulsi didn't say if she'd be sharing any of the $50 million with me if she wins the lawsuit.


Highlights of Tulsi Gabbard's email to me:
Hillary calling me a "Russian asset" is not only intended to smear my reputation and derail my campaign for president, it's also intended to silence any voice that dares to speak out against the establishment status quo. Your voice.
That's why today, I sued Hillary Clinton for defamation. Hillary Clinton's high priced attorneys and friends in high places won't make it easy, but we cannot let the establishment elite sideline the will of the American people. Will you stand with me today and help me hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her lies?
Hillary Clinton and her establishment friends are playing high school popularity politics instead of serving the American people.
And when a warmonger responsible for getting us into no-win wars that make our country less safe accuses me — a soldier, a veteran, a sitting member of Congress — of treason, I will defend against it.
Will you take a stand with me, Curt?

Here is what Hillary Clinton said in David Plouffe's podcast
Clinton gave a wide-ranging interview last October, Clinton suggested that Russians were "grooming" a Democratic presidential candidate to run as a third-party candidate. Although Clinton didn't name Gabbard specifically, the comment was seemingly directed to the Hawaii Democrat.
Plouffe: "But one of the reasons [Trump] was able to win is the third party vote."
The conversation meandered a bit, but quickly returned to the topic of third party candidates benefiting Trump.
Clinton: "Well, I think there's going to be two parts and I think it's going to be the same as 2016: ‘Don't vote for the other guy. You don't like me? Don't vote for the other guy because the other guy is going to do X, Y and Z or the other guy did such terrible things and I'm going to show you in these, you know, flashing videos that appear and then disappear and they're on the dark web, and nobody can find them, but you're going to see them and you're going to see that person doing these horrible things.'"
"They're also going to do third party again. And I'm not making any predictions but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up. Which she might not, 'cause she's also a Russian asset."
Plouffe: (Inaudible)
Clinton: "Yeah, she's a Russian asset, I mean, totally.
"And so, they know they can't win without a third party candidate and, so, I don't know who it's going to be it but I will guarantee you they'll have a vigorous third party challenge in the key states that they most need it."

Gabbard immediately responded to the Hillary comments with a series of tweets
Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 ✔ @TulsiGabbard
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a ...
... concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and ...
... powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.
It's now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.
12:20 PM - Oct 18, 2019

Just about everything is wrong with Gabbard's lawsuit
If Clinton's implying that Gabbard (she didn't use her name) is "a Russian asset" is defamatory, then Gabbard tweeting that Clinton a "the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party" is defamatory as well.

Public figures don't have the same protection against defamation as average people
Cases involving public figures are different from those relating to the reputations of private citizens.

Simply being proving a statement is false isn't sufficient in proving defamation
A public figure must prove that a defamatory statement was published with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard" for the truth. Gabbard would need to prove that the Russians are not promoting Gabbard, and furthermore that Clinton knew that.
In the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the plaintiff, a police official, sued the New York Times for allegedly making false statements about him. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court which balanced the plaintiff's interest in protecting his reputation against the public's interest in free debate of matters of politics. The Supreme Court ruled that, for a public figure to recover damages in a defamation case, he must prove not only that the statement was defamatory but also that it was made with actual malice. The Court reasoned that this heightened burden of proof was required by the First Amendment in order to ensure uninhibited debate on public issues, even when such debate includes "vehement, caustic, unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

Courts are much less likely to award damages to public figures in defamation cases
Reasons #1 Courts have made a precedent setting decision that the reputations of public figures are less deserving of legal protection. The justification being that public figures such as politicians, seek out public attention and thus must take the good attention with the bad.
Reasons #2 Courts recognize that public figures generally have much greater access to the media than average citizens and can use their access to the media to rebut any defamatory statements without assistance from the courts. The thought being that a celebrity who feels defamed can refute the defamatory statement in an interview with a magazine or talk show or can write an editorial for a newspaper.

The statement must be proved false
Truth is an absolute defense to defamation. If a statement is true, it can't be defamatory. Hillary said, "She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far…" It is interesting that Clinton didn't mention Gabbard by name, but every politically aware observer, including Gabbard herself, assumed that Clinton was talking about Gabbard. Undoubtedly this is because Gabbard gets in an inordinate amount of positive press in RT (Russian today) and from Russians on social media.

An opinion is not defamation
A statement must be false to be damaging, so an opinion is not defamation. Clinton's opinion, " I'm not making any predictions but I think [Russians have] got their eye on somebody…" can't be proven to be true or false; it's not defamatory.

Vague criticisms and insults are not defamatory
It is not defamatory to say a "John Doe is a crook". But if a specific and credible public allegation is made, such as "John Doe stole my lawn mower last week", that could be defamation.

There must be harm to collect damages
Gabbard in the lawsuit claims she has "suffered significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million—and continue to this day" because of Clinton's comments. But there isn't any evidence that Gabbard was harmed. In the RealClearPolitics.com aggregate of national polls, Gabbard went from 1.2% in the Democratic presidential horse race to 1.4%. Gabbard also claims that Hillary Clinton
Not only that, Gabbard tweeted when the Plouffe podcast dropped, "Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton." There is little doubt that Gabbard actually benefited from Clinton's jab.

Tulsi's lawsuit is a cynical ploy
I will give Tulsi the benefit of the doubt and assume she knows that her lawsuit is entirely without merit. She must realize that her presidential campaign is going nowhere. Therefore I conclude that her lawsuit is a cynical ploy to bilk supporters out of a few more bucks.

Cited and related links:

  1. usatoday.com
  2. politifact.com
  3. twitter.com
  4. usatoday.com





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